This is the first post in a series from Stanford in Government alumni who have continued on to further study and careers in public service. Otis Reid, ’12, was a SIG member from 2009-2012 and SIG Chair for 2011-2012. He is currently a PhD candidate in economics at MIT. He is from Chapel Hill, NC.
I could talk for a long while about the different roles I had in SIG (Director of Communications, fellowships committee member, SIG Chair) and the different initiatives we led (revamping the newsletter, launching the stipends program, hosting Kofi Annan, etc.). Instead, I’d like to focus on how SIG shaped my Stanford experience and my path then and now. The main thing I loved about SIG was the community. It was, and is, a gathering place for policy nerds for all issues, from national security to economic policy, from cybersecurity to civil rights. Many of my favorite nights were SIG meetings that turned into wide-ranging discussions of issues of the day, from the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the return of ROTC to campus to the tragic Trayvon Martin shooting and criminal justice in the United States. Even on a campus as full of brilliant students as Stanford, I always found SIG to be a unique home for people who were fully engaged with the world, something that has always been very important to me.
SIG also complemented my scholastic interests (I was a public policy/economics double major) and I think that having such a cerebral group as a core part of my social world is part of the reason that I’m pursuing a PhD today. After all, I don’t think that it’s an accident that the past three SIG Chairs (myself, Meredith Wheeler, and Valentin Bolotnyy) are all currently studying for higher degrees. Indeed, last year, Valen and I were roommates, as he did his first year at Harvard and I did mine at MIT. In fact, our third roommate, Andrew Hillis (getting his PhD, also in economics, at Harvard Business School), was also a SIG member at Stanford. I don’t think that’s a coincidence; SIG attracts and shapes people who want to pursue policy in a rigorous way.
Going forward, I have no doubt that SIG will continue to be a part of my life. I was unfortunately away in Nigeria during the 50th Anniversary celebration, but I look forward to many more mini-reunions in the years to come. This past summer, I visited Washington, D.C. to meet up with several of my good friends from SIG. Val, Andrew, and I still hang out in Cambridge, even though we no longer live together. I also hope to eventually use my PhD in policy work, potentially even at the same office where I once interned during my time at Stanford in Washington: the Department of the Treasury.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to studying for exams. Some things never change, even long after you graduate from Stanford…